Different Approaches to Knowledge The Question of Proof

I know the truth only when it becomes life in me.

— Soren Kierkegaard

The physicist-philosopher L. L. Whyte (1948), in his book The Next Development in Man, argues that the Western intellectual tradition has been marked by what he calls a "dissociation." What he means by this term is that, increasingly from the time of Plato and St. Paul to the twentieth century, Western man's deliberate behavior, directed by his mind, has been organized through the use of static concepts of nature, while his spontaneous behavior, in direct response to his immediate experience, inevitably continues to express the formative processes which really characterize all nature. This dissociation between the body and mind, the self and nature, the intellect and the feeling-intuitional sense has permeated Western man's approach to all of life: intellectual, religious, economic, and political. The rare exceptions to this trend have usually been poets, mystics, and others on the periphery of socio-cultural life. This dissociative trend has led to the breakdown of Western culture, as seen in the great wars, the present-day ecological crisis, and rapidly increasing physical and mental problems. Whyte (1954) goes on to say:

If the whole of nature is one great system in perpetual transformation and development, the attempt to isolate any part is bound to lead to failure. In particular the separation of man as subject from the field of objective nature blinds him to the form of life proper to him. Man can only fully understand himself by fusing the objective knowledge which is gained by observation of the whole of organic nature with the subjective knowledge of individual experience. This can bring a new ease and self-acceptance, an innocence based on knowledge. The negative prejudices of conventional morality are replaced by a positive enthusiasm for developing life (p. 121)

Whyte points out that, since the time of the Greeks, thinkers have fallen into two camps, which can be called the Atomistic School and the Holistic School; and the adherents to each approach dislike the other, complementary view. In our daily lives, we use both approaches, with varying degrees of emphasis, although the holistic approach is by far the most comprehensive and useful for understanding vast systems or organic wholes; for, as Whyte writes, the holistic approach (i.e., a consciousness of form and pattern) cannot be ignored since it is an irrefutable fact that regular forms dominate nature and everything we see and experience.

This same problem of conflicting views of life is noted by the existential philosophers and psychologists. Psychologist Rollo May (1958) says that existentialism "seeks to understand man by cutting below the cleavage between subject and object by which the Western mind had been bedeviled since shortly after the Renaissance." Many existentialists recognize at least two different approaches to understanding: that of "mystery" (which Gabriel Marcel refers to as all that may be labeled personal, both human and divine) and that of "problem" (which arises from the analysis of parts of the whole). Marcel goes on to say that existence itself is not "explained" but rather has to be "illuminated" in order to gain real understanding. The French philosopher Pascal denied that the world and especially man could be truly understood by means of rational analysis. He asserted that intuition, i.e., seeing through the surface of things into their essential mystery, was ultimately the key for understanding man and the world. What Marcel and Pascal are referring to here is today called the "holistic" approach. Let us elucidate here the basic differences of approach which led to the dissociation in Western man and to the misplaced emphasis on purely intellectual functioning.

The great mystery schools of antiquity (the predecessors of modern psychotherapeutic techniques) taught that the human consciousness is limited only by the arbitrary intellectual boundaries which it imposes upon itself. When studying the history of

Western civilization, we always find that the Greeks' emphasis on science and reason is considered the crucial turning point in Western man's intellectual and cultural development. This era was of course one of great growth in man's understanding of himself and the universe. However, the contribution of the Greeks was not limited to the discovery of certain natural laws active in the material world; it also extended into the realm of the individual's inner life and growth. "Know thyself' was the key idea underlying the development of Greek philosophy; and the word "philosophy" (philosophia) literally means "love of wisdom." Science for the Greeks was not merely the collection of data in the hope that certain correlations could be discovered. It was rather a systematic search for the essential truths underlying life and nature, and an attempt to discover not only natural laws but also the universal metaphysical laws of life itself. And, for the Greeks, "reason" did not refer merely to the computer-like calculations of the logical mind, but rather to an inspired (or "inspirited") combination of analysis and intuition founded upon ideals of elegance and symmetry.

Many modern scientists still believe that the most comprehensive theories necessarily have to be the most elegant, aesthetically satisfying, and essentially simple. However, for many scientists, this ideal has been forgotten or derided; and the search for comprehensive truths has been neglected due to an overemphasis on critical analysis. To be truly scientific, one has to abstain as much as possible from imposing his own expectations, desires, and preconceived intellectual boundaries on men's minds, in order that the human spirit can grow freely and flower. Most scientists, however, including psychologists, have unnecessarily limited their view of man and his potentials. When a man intellectually builds a wall around himself, it does not affect what is outside the wall; it merely prevents the man from seeing what is outside and it distorts the structure of the whole. We try to understand life by limiting it and categorizing it, primarily on the basis of our intellectual prejudices and emotional predispositions. But all too often, we wind up merely limiting ourselves; for what is, no matter what we may say about it, is. Our culture's educational institutions could learn a profitable lesson from Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki-roshi (1970):

"Beginner's mind" is our original mind, actually an empty and ready mind. If our mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's there are few In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something.

The intellect is mainly useful for utilizing the outer, material world. We see a clear example of this fact when we note how Western science and technology boomed shortly after the goddess of reason was enthroned in Europe. But it is equally true that we have seen no such boom in our understanding of man himself through the efforts of materialistic psychology. It has been only recently, when reason and intellect have been balanced by an emphasis on experience, feeling, and intuition, that some branches of psychology have begun to make progress in the understanding of man's inner nature. Until now, the application of purely intellectual analysis to the understanding of the inner world of experience has not been able to prove or disprove anything about the ultimate philosophical or religious questions of life which form the foundation of anyone's psychological structure. Logical positivism is the extreme manifestation (and logical result) of the analytical approach, which may be said to be aiming at a maximum of abstraction with a minimum of meaning. And it is meaning that man needs; and an understanding of man's need for meaning is necessary to any psychology of health and wholeness. Meaning is provided from within, not from without; hence, the analytical approach alone can never help man to fulfill his deepest needs.

Psychologist Wilson Van Dusen (1967) expresses basically the same idea:

All this becomes more reasonable if the world is no longer viewed as the physicist's abstract, objective world — a totally impersonal other-than-one's self. That world is a conceptual construction convenient to physics but grossly inaccurate in the psychology of persons. The personal world, the only one each of us really knows, is the world painted in the tones of all one's own personal meanings. The world shuts off when I sleep. Its time slows down when I am bored and accelerates when I am involved The world of persons is a personal world.

Lightning and thunder are beautiful to me. Are they something else to you? Where is the objective impersonal lightning and thunder? They are part of the "reported events" which don't mean much to a person. The impersonal objective world is the one no one cares about! (p. 233)

French biologist and anthropologist Pere Teilhard de Chardin (1936) also questions the validity of so-called "objective" knowledge:

Truth is simply the complete coherence of the universe in relation to every point contained within it. Why should we be suspicious of or underestimate this coherence just because we ourselves are the observers? We hear continually of some sort of anthropocentric illusion contrasted with some sort of objective reality. In fact, there is no such distinction. Man's truth is the truth of the universe for man; in other words, it is simply truth.

The wholeness and coherence of all life and the oneness of man and the universe referred to in de Chardin's quotation provides a concise and elegant theory which supports the approach of traditional geocentric astrology and, in essence, leads to the microcosm-macrocosm correlation noted by ancient authors.

In order to elucidate how this over-emphasis on "objectivity" has developed, we should here mention Jung's theory of personality. According to Jung, there are four primary ways of knowing, which Jung calls the four basic psychic functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Thinking and sensation can be grouped together since analytical thought is based primarily upon data from the outer world received through the senses. Intuition and feeling can also be grouped together since these functions arise from within the individual and are not totally conditioned by the socio-cultural milieu of the time. Also, knowledge gained through intuition and feeling is subjective and personal, in the sense that it can't be proved or objectively verified. (Since these four functions can be grouped into two distinct approaches to knowledge, I will henceforth speak of "thinking" and "intuition" to indicate the two groups.) The thinking faculty functions through the systematic classification and discrimination of facts which are then arranged in certain patterns according to the type of logic employed. ("Logic," needless to say, is markedly different for different people.) The faculty of intuition, on the other hand, reveals to the individual an immediate insight into, and perception of, the workings of the whole system being considered. Intuition is basically man's power of direct perception and immediate knowledge which circumvents, transcends, or penetrates through the slower workings of the logic-bound intellect. Modern science has completely overlooked the intuitive function in man, perhaps assuming that "intuition" is merely thought prejudicially colored by personal feelings. But, in reality, intuition is a type of fully conscious perception, whereas "feeling" emanates from vague, unconscious roots. The intuitive function is closely related to the aesthetic function in man; for the wholeness of perception seen in great art arises from the intuitive perception of order and harmony and from an inner knowledge that is arrived at by means transcending rational thought. By the very nature of intuition, the language of art is more suited to its expression than are abstract theories or mathematics. As L.L. Whyte (1954) writes in Accent on Form:

Intuitive awareness, expressed in nonverbal form, comprises a greater range of experience than the verbal and algebraic symbols of language and mathematics can yet convey, (p. 122)

The great German poet Goethe (1954) expressed his preference for the comprehensiveness of intuitive perception in this way: "I should like to speak like Nature, altogether in drawings." In constructing a psychology that deals chiefly with persons and personal experience, the intuitional faculty is of prime importance; for, as psychologist Wilson Van Dusen (1967) writes, "I would have no quarrel with anyone who asserted the language of the novelist, poet, or musician is closer to the quality of human experience than the language of psychologists." We should add to this quotation the fact that the symbolic language of astrology is also closer to the quality of human experience than the usual language of psychologists.

In trying to understand the faculty of intuition, we must realize that the imaginative and intuitive activities of the human mind are not mere by-products of analysis and sense-dominated logic. For we see that the truly creative people often threaten the very social order, values, and ways of thinking that gave them birth. Hence, if these people do not gain their insights through training in the established social institutions and through socio-cultural patterns, where does this creativity come from? We must answer that the intuitive function in man is the prime source of all new insights and imagination. The intellect is conditioned by many factors, but the intuition (the portal of inspiration) seems to have relative freedom.

Let us here clarify the distinction between the different approaches to knowledge:

Thinking a) assumption b) aim c) nature of resulting concepts d) way of proceeding e) language f) orientation g) field of study h) units of language domain of usefulness i)

causality discrimination & classification static systematic quantitative (mathematics or precise words)

problem contents & details of whole system signs outer world (material)

Intuition not necessarily causal (correspondences within the whole)

synthesis & order process & orderly change all-at-once-ness (synchronistically)

qualitative (feeling, visual, artistic)

mystery whole system and the form & pattern of the whole symbols inner world (psychic, spiritual)

It appears from the above that, whereas intellect can reveal the secrets of outer life and the workings of matter, it is intuition that can reveal the secrets of inner life and the field of personal experience. The ideal for a comprehensive science of the psyche would be a fusion of the two; but in a psychology that takes as its main field of study the inner life of man and the meaning of his experience, the intuitive function must not only have a place but indeed must be accepted as the primary approach toward a deep and satisfying understanding of the individual person. This is so because the subjective experience of persons is by its very nature qualitative. The analytical thinking approach already has the quantitative language of mathematics to describe its findings; but the intuitive approach until now has had no generally-accepted and comprehensive language to represent the qualitative findings in its domain.

Astrology is just this language which is so necessary to describe human experience and uniqueness in a useful and comprehensive way. Although only a small percentage of the academic and scientific establishment accepts astrology as the answer to this need (if indeed they recognize the need at all), a large segment of the general population has naturally gravitated toward astrological ways of seeing things and understanding their experience. In other words, astrology can be for the healing arts (medicine, psychology, psychiatry, etc.) what the periodic table is for chemistry. Zipporah Dobyns (1971), a psychologist who is working toward the integration of astrology and psychology and who uses astrology as the primary tool in her practice, calls astrology "man's greatest glimpse of the unifying order in the cosmos successfully translated into cognitive conceptual form." She goes on to say:

... it seems there are two master languages which have universal application as ways to classify and symbolically describe reality. The language of quantity we call mathematics can be used to describe anything that can be counted or measured. I would like to suggest astrology as the most universally useful language of quality. ... I am quite sure that before many more years have passed, the myriad personality systems now competing in modern psychology will quietly disappear, and be replaced by a purified and unified astrology. In the end, this is inevitable, for astrology provides the only system in which there are external referents for the categories which are visible, predictable, and capable of complexity infinitely beyond any personality classification devised by psychology, (p. 8)

The two different approaches to knowledge naturally give rise to two different kinds of proofs: statistical (or "objective") and experiential (also called "existential"). Let us here briefly examine the whole question of "proof' in relation to astrology.

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